Kane returns, looking for quick start

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Kane returns, looking for quick start

Patrick Kane stood in front of the media throng on Thursday.
Five stitches dotted his upper lip, a parting gift from his final Swiss League game.
Caught an elbow to the face; its part of hockey, Kane, who played for EHC Biel from October until the lockout ended on Sunday, said. It was pretty painful. I was nervous how the doctors over there were going to do stitching my face. But I checked in here and they said they did a good job.
But the Chicago Blackhawks right wing got more than a sewn-up lip out of his Swiss play. He got plenty of games under his belt -- just about all of them at right wing -- and stayed in game form throughout the lengthy lockout. And Kane, who along with Viktor Stalberg, Nick Leddy, Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell returned to Johnnys IceHouse skates on Thursday, hopes that overseas work translates into a fast start back here.
I think its going to be big for me, said Kane, who played eight games in 10 days, including five in as many nights, in his waning days in Switzerland. It was really good for my conditioning, skating and playing on the bigger ice. For all of us, its going to be an adjustment period (here). But Im happy I did it. It was a good experience and hopefully it helped.
Kane went to Europe early in the lockout, heading to Biel, Switzerland in early October. He tallied 13 goals and 10 assists in 20 games with EHC Biel, and played several games for HC Davos in the Spengler Cup. Kane said he didnt work on any specific part of his game overseas, other than to score goals as often as he could. The biggest goal was to stay sharp for whenever if ever the lockout ended.
If the lockout was going to go on, (playing overseas) was something I needed to do, Kane said. I felt I was just waiting around, waiting for hockey to start. I realized when I was playing my best hockey I was playing a lot. I figured I might as well get a head start for the (NHL) season when it did start back up, that maybe Id have a little bit of an advantage. Thats really the only reason.
Its reason enough, and Kane looked sharp skating around on Thursday. As players keep returning, so do the good vibes. When asked about Jonathan Toews role as coach on Thursday, Kane couldnt resist.
He talks a little too much. Were trying to shut him up, Kane said. Thankfully we have camp starting soon and get a real coach out there.
Camps are slated to start on Sunday, a day after the NHLPA should have the new collective bargaining agreement ratified. The Blackhawks are like every other team, hoping to get off to a fast start. Kane is looking for the same out of his game. He shouldve gotten the jump-start from the same place he got those stitches.
Ive always prided myself on getting off to a quick start; I usually have success doing that, Kane said. Hopefully I can continue it throughout the year.

It’s a business, but Blackhawks still feel sting of emotional deals

It’s a business, but Blackhawks still feel sting of emotional deals

Coach Joel Quenneville stood in the United Center hallway, summing up what had been a difficult Friday.

“Very emotional deals,” he said on Saturday morning, as Day 2 of the NHL Draft commenced. “A lot to process there.”

Indeed, the Blackhawks had a busy and difficult day on Friday, trading defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona and swapping Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad in a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Quenneville was seen by media leaving a coaches meeting in between the Hjalmarsson and Panarin/Saad trades on Friday morning and he wasn’t at the Blackhawks’ table on Friday, unusual for the opening night of the draft. But he said his absence wasn’t about the trades.

“Not at all,” he said.

Still, as Quenneville said, big moves are a lot to process, even for a team that’s done its share of shedding players since the 2010 offseason. General manager Stan Bowman said Friday was filled with, “high emotions… when you make some difficult decisions.” Jonathan Toews said on Friday night that, “everyone’s kind of shocked” by recent events, including Marian Hossa’s loss. Toews added he was wary of saying the team was better today, out of respect for departed players.

“It’s hard to sit there and say that without sounding like you’re being disrespectful to two teammates you care for and know were huge parts of the team,” he said.

We talk about the business side of hockey all the time. You make the tough decisions and then you move forward. But there’s a human element to all of this that’s easy to forget. Players, especially those who are with an organization for a long time as Hjalmarsson was, make their impact on and off the ice. Teammates and coaches are spending endless amounts of time together, and those bonds, coupled with what they all go through during regular seasons and Stanley-Cup runs, endure. Saying goodbye is difficult.

For Quenneville, seeing Hjalmarsson leave was very difficult.

“Well, certainly Hammer, he’s one of those heart-and-soul guys and was instrumental in winning some championships for us. You feel for him and what he meant to his team and his teammates and fans here and the city of Chicago. He’s one of those guys that you have an appreciation to watch and see how he competes and knowing what he fights through to stay on the ice in a lot of games. He’s a heart-and-souler. Those guys are hard to see go,” Quenneville said. “Bread Man wasn’t here long enough to really get that consistency over term. But Hammer really did give a lot to the organization. And we are very appreciative of the Bread Man, because he could wow us and entertain us and a great kid, as well.”

Still, there’s the positive side. Quenneville and Toews are thrilled to have Saad back in the fold. Toews and Saad had great chemistry, the first time around and Quenneville said he’ll put those two together to start the season – “I know that [Patrick Kane] finds a way to make it happen, no matter who’s playing at center or on his left. It really adds a one-two punch that hopefully we get consistency and predictability in that area,” Quenneville said.

Saad should also help fill at least some of the void left from Hossa.

It’s another offseason during which the Blackhawks are feeling the losses, professionally as well as personally. You process, you deal with the sting and then you proceed. That’s the business.

“As a coach, we’re in the short-term business, we’re thinking about now,” Quenneville said. “So we’re going to do everything we can to better ourselves right now and looking to win today. And that’s our challenge and that’s what we look at.”

Blackhawks 2017 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

Blackhawks 2017 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

A recap of the Blackhawks' selections in the 2017 NHL Draft, and their scouting reports, including analysis from Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and VP of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

Round 1, pick 29: Henri Jokiharju, Finnish defenseman

Round 2, pick 57: Ian Mitchell, defenseman 

— What you need to know: Mitchell, 18, scored eight goals and added 29 assists in 53 regular-season games with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and also scored a goal and recorded three assists in 10 playoff contests.

— Scouting report: Mitchell is a little undersized (5-foot-11, 165 pounds), but is known to be a smooth skater and puck-mover. He carries a right-handed shot, which GM Stan Bowman said is a "commodity" in the NHL these days.

— Analysis from Bowman: "He's got a high skill set. He's not the biggest guy, but he's got great competitiveness, speed, skating, he's got quick hands. We like that part of it."

Round 3, pick 70: Andrei Altybarmakyan, Russian forward

— What you need to know: Altybarmakyan, 18, had 20 goals and 25 assists in 31 regular-season games with the Serebryanye Lvy St. Petersburg of the Maritime Hockey League. He also tallied nine points in 27 games with SKA-Neva St. Petersburg.

— Scouting report: An offensively skilled player with a sneaky good shot. He's 5-foot-11, 183 pounds with a left-handed shot, and is known to be a playmaker.

— Analysis from Kelley: "We started watching him last year's draft. We didn't watch him hard, but he popped up in a few of the international tournaments and we had reports on him. Then going into this year, his name kept coming up, we spent a lot of time at St. Petersburg to see him, we actually brought him into Chicago to get to know him a little bit. Just the way he plays the game, his personality is contagious. We're really excited about him."

— Analysis from Bowman: "He's a real electrifying-type player. His skill set is, he's got great speed, offensive skill, he's a competitive guy too, he's not afraid to throw some body checks. He plays an up-tempo style. He's maybe a little bit off the radar for some people, but we were very impressed with him. I think he's got a chance to be a real special player."

Round 3, pick 90: Evan Barratt, center

— What you need to know: Barratt, 18, scored 18 goals and added 38 assists in 63 games this past season for USA's national under-18 team, and also registered a goal and five assists in seven games to help USA win the gold medal in the IIHF Under 18 World Championships. He will play for Penn State in 2017-18.

— Scouting report: Barratt's biggest strength is his hockey IQ, and playing hard in all three zones on the ice. He's 5-foot-11, 187 pounds, has a left-handed shot and says he models his game after Derrick Brassard.

— Analysis from Kelley: "Every shift, every practice he plays all out. His teammates love him and his opponents don't."

— Analysis from Bowman: "I think the fans here are really going to like what they see from him. Real competitive. Ultra competitive player. He's got skill too, so I don't want to sell him short in that department, but I think the thing we like the most is the way he battles really hard. It was great to see him, he was pretty emotional getting picked, you can tell he wants it pretty bad and I think that's the one quality about him that we like the most."

Round 4, pick 112: Tim Soderlund, Swedish forward

— What you need to know: Soderlund, 19, scored three goals and added four assists in 39 games last season for Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League.

— Scouting report: He's an undersized (5-foot-9, 163 pounds) versatile forward with a left-handed shot who's known for his speed, and isn't afraid to go into the dirty areas.

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's energetic. If you go to the game but I didn't tell you who he was, you'd find him. He plays hard, he plays inside. He's not a big guy, but he attacks."

Round 4, pick 119: Roope Laavainen, Finnish defenseman

— What you need to know: Laavainen, 18, had five goals and 16 assists in 48 games last season for Jokerit's under-20 team.

— Analysis from Kelley: "We thought this year, the strides he made from September through April, he just kept coming and coming. He has good size, another right-handed shot, he skates well, he plays really well with his partner."

Round 5, pick 144: Parker Foo, forward

— What you need to know: Foo, 18, had 34 goals and 32 assists in 60 regular-season games with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and also added 10 goals and 10 assists in 13 playoff contests. He will play for Union College in 2017-18.

— Scouting report: Foo is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds and carries a left-handed shot. He prides himself on being a reliable two-way player and be responsible defensively. 

Round 5, pick 150: Jakub Galvas, Czech defenseman

— What you need to know: Galvas, 18, scored one goal and added five assists in 36 regular-season games with HC Olomouc of the Czech league.

Scouting report: Galvas is a 5-foot-11, 165-pound right-handed shot defenseman who can be effective both on offense and defense, and contribute on the power play, too.

Round 7, pick 215: Josh Ess, defenseman

— What you need to know: Ess, 18, had two goals and 11 assists in 18 regular-season games with Team Southwest in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League before potting eight goals and 20 assists in 23 regular-season games with Lakeville South High, where he also added three goals and two assists in three playoff tilts.

— Additional info: Ess, who's 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, will play college hockey next season at Wisconsin, where he will be coached by Tony Granato — older brother of Blackhawks newly-hired assistant Don.

— Analysis from Kelley: "He has very good instincts and skates really well."